Bilateral skin Conductance, finger pulse volume, and EEG orienting response to tones of differing intensities in chronic schizophrenics and controls

Alvin S. Bernstein, Kenneth W. Taylor, Paul Starkey, Samuel Juni, Jack Lubowsky, Herbert Paley

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Skin conductance (SCOR), finger pulse volume (FPV-OR), and EEG orienting responses were examined to repeated tones of either 60-or 90-dB intensity in chronic schizophrenics, nonschizophrenic psychiatric patients, and normals. SCOR reaffirmed previous findings with schizophrenics displaying significantly more frequent nonresponsiveness to 60-dB tones, and faster habituation among patients who did respond. Increased stimulus intensity decreased the incidence of nonresponsiveness to the level of controls, but did not alter the rapid habituation of schizophrenics. These results generalized fully to the FPV-OR, despite the independence demonstrated between SCOR and FPV-OR, but did not generalize to EEG response. There were no significant differences between schizophrenics and controls in EEG reactivity-only in background activity, particularly in a slowing of dominant alpha frequency in schizophrenics. Schizophrenics displayed the same degree of bilateral asymmetry as controls in both SCOR and EEG; there was no evidence of a specifically schizophrenic asymmetry. Schizophrenics nonresponsive in either SCOR or FPV-OR showed significantly greater Conceptual Disorganization and Emotional Withdrawal, and significantly less Excitement than responders in blind clinical ratings on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. None of the findings could be attributed to the effect of neuroleptics. Comparisons between medicated and nonmedicated patients showed no drug-associated effect on any OR variable under study. Drug effects were apparent only in skin conductance level (SCL). Neuroleptics were associated with a significant reduction in SCL in both schizophrenics and nonschizophrenics, together with a flattening of an otherwise incrementing SCL among schizophrenics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-528
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1981


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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